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Full Access The Development of Prosodic Structure: Evidence from Typical Longitudinal Data

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The Development of Prosodic Structure: Evidence from Typical Longitudinal Data

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The paper provides an analysis of the acquisition of prosodic structure, including prosodic words (number of syllables), feet, syllables and sub-syllabic units (i.e. nucleus, onset and coda). The analysis, couched within the theory of prosodic phonology (Selkirk 1984, Nespor and Vogel 1986), accounts for the developmental path of each prosodic unit as well as developmental interactions among the units. Particular attention is devoted to the markedness of the prosodic units and the relationship between unmarked prosodic structures (e.g. CV syllables, trochaic feet) and early development of these structures. The data are drawn from a longitudinal study of the early speech of 10 monolingual Hebrew-acquiring children from the age of 1;2 years till 2;10 (Ben-David 2001), the age when all prosodic units considered in the study were produced correctly. The analysis revealed two main findings. (i) Although children’s productions usually progress from the unmarked to the more marked structures during the course of development, the role of universal markedness is not always recognized. (ii) Children “build” their words from right to lef. Since the majority of words in Hebrew have final or penultimate stress, both stressed and final syllables are located at the end of the word and are rarely omitted. However, while the final syllable is not subject to prosodic changes (except for coda deletion at the beginning of the developmental process), the penultimate syllable is. Even in Strong-Weak (SW) words, which occur very early in the child’s productions, cases of initial consonant deletion and harmony of the nuclei and the onset of the first syllable can be detected.


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